Needles and Opium is a meditation on art, love and dependence. A collage of moments where time and gravitational force seem suspended, the viewer is immersed in an Escher-like world with no up or down—an illusionist act as fascinating as it is strange.
One night in 1949, on a plane taking him back to France, Jean Cocteau writes A Letter to Americans. In it, fascination and disenchantment coexist: he had just discovered New York, where he had presented his most recent feature film, The Eagle With Two Heads.
Around the same time, Miles Davis visits Paris for the first time, bringing bebop along with him. Parisian jazz fans celebrate him, and, in the length of the song “Je suis comme je suis,” Juliette Gréco welcomes him with open arms.
Forty years later, at the Hôtel La Louisiane in Paris, a lonely Québécois man tries to forget his ex. His emotional distress contains echoes of Cocteau’s dependence on opium and Davis’ addiction to heroin. During his spectacular withdrawal experience, he’s accompanied by the words of the prince of poets and the blue notes of the exceptional jazzman as he leaps into the unknown, desperately looking within to stop his pain and free himself from his addiction to love.
Ex Machina is funded by the Canada Council for the Arts, the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, and the Ville de Québec.